Recently I gave Mass Effect another go. This time making quick work of the Turian’s Asari clones – having mastered the rock, paper, scissors of physical/tech/biotics. And while the voice acting is impressive… there is so. Much. Talking.
I guess my main criticism of Bioware is they have been remaking the same game since 2003. My initial exposure to Bioware games was Neverwinter Nights. Before the first expansion pack, they had the element of exploring your companion’s past to uncover additional plot. However, the game only advanced gear by incremental improvement of the bonus (+2 replacing +1, etc) and while we’re not talking free range cosmic betrayal, there is some significant similarities.
The first expansion introduced the alignment system and how your decisions could, holy shit, have consequences. Additionally, they added depth to the magical weapons.
Bioware’s relationship with their community has always been impressive. They actually listened to their modding community and implemented a lot of the functions and procedures necessary for the hackish work around to develop “Persistent worlds”
The voice acting is impressive, but most people can read 4x faster than people can talk. So whereas on a console a conversation would consist of “1,1,2,2,4” and out, now you have to sit there for 5 minutes wading through the dialog.
The second complaint is about the forced morality. Like Neverwinter, like KOTOR, you’re either rich and evil or poor and good, but not really. Attention developers: Life isn’t fair. The game has taken this to a new level by putting in “tough decisions. ” A manager of a mining colony is putting the company ahead of the citizens, and I shot him. Maybe if I had enough points in Intimidate or Persuade it could have ended differently, but I was playing a game where I wasn’t the only one who had consequences for my actions. A guy wanted his wife’s body released for burial, but her wounds we’re being studied by the military. Yawn. I’m only on the shore of Lake Genophage or at the base camp of Mt. Xenophobia, but neither are really scratching the SciFi as social commentary itch that everybody thinks is so easy to scratch.
The third issue, why doesn’t Sauron, do a little opposition prep, look in the rear view, and rain devastation down upon the competition? Two minutes with a high powered laser rifle, and it’d all be over. Conflict relies upon balance, and I’m not sure where that is, between the mind controlling dreadnought and the machine army. Maybe I’m missing something (not good in its own right) but the lack of explanation as to why I don’t immediately see “game over” makes me feel like the game lacks complexity.